Christmas Market Time
Christmas markets are back this festive season, with most towns and villages in our area hosting one in the coming weeks
The Christmas market originated in what is now Germany. Open-air street markets have a long history dating back long before anyone celebrated Christmas. In Europe in the Late Middle Ages special winter markets, often open only for a day or two in early winter, offered townspeople a chance to stock up on food and supplies to tide them over in the cold months. An example is Vienna’s Dezembermarkt, first held around 1294/1296. Similar ‘Wintermärkte’ also took place elsewhere in Europe, but they were not really Christmas markets.
With time, craftspeople began setting up stands at winter markets to sell baskets, toys and woodcarvings. There were also booths for almonds, nuts, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and other baked goods. These items were often purchased as gifts to be given out for Christmas or on New Year’s Day. These winter markets were the precursor of contemporary Christmas markets. Claims that the first documented genuine Christmas markets were found in Munich (1310), Bautzen (1384) and Frankfurt am Main (Weihnachtsmarkt am Römerberg, 1393) have recently been called into question. Those may not have been real Christmas markets, but winter markets similar to the ones described above.
Dresden may have one of the strongest claims to the first genuine Christmas market. The Striezelmarkt in Dresden dates back to 1434. If not the oldest, it is certainly one of the oldest and most authentic Christmas fairs in Germany.
Today during the four-week Advent season leading up to Christmas, almost any town of moderate size in the German-speaking world has at least one Christmas market. (Some markets open as early as mid-November.) Larger cities usually have many, with Berlin boasting 60 or so prior to the Covid pandemic. Known as a Weihnachtsmarkt in German, Christmas markets also have other German names, including Advent(s)markt, Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Nikolausmarkt, Striezelmarkt, and Krippenmarkt.
If you don’t fancy a trip to Germany this festive season you can still enjoy a Christmas market here in the UK. Manchester and Liverpool’s Christmas markets are back this year and open mid November where Birmingham, has its Frankfurt Market which one of the largest ‘German’ Christmas markets outside of Germany.
There are plenty of local markets here in Preston and the Fylde including:
Ribby Hall Winter Wonderland 14th November
Hoghton Gift Market 28th November
Mitton Hall 3rd December
Morecambe Lantern Festival 4th December
Ashton Gardens, St Anne’s 9th-12th December
Penwortham 15th December
New Longton, All Saint’s 17th December.